CBC Draws Nearly 2 Million For Habs/Leafs

October 7, 2011 – Canadians everywhere tuned into CBC’s Thursday night hockey coverage of MolsonCanadian NHL FACE-OFF, as the season opener for CBC’s HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA attracted strong audiences from start to finish.

Ratings data from the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) show that an average audience of 929,000 viewers 2+ got into the night with the pre-game show, a 66 percent increase over last year.

Then, 1.935 million Canadians watched the classic Game 1 match-up between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs – beating last year’s opening-game mark of 1.923 million.

Afterwards, coverage of Game 2 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and 2011 Stanley Cup contenders the Vancouver Canucks drew a 2+ audience of 989,000, nearly matching last year’s opening-night Game 2 mark – and a sure indicator that the excitement over the 2011-2012 season of CBC’s HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA has only just begun.

(Source: BBM Canada, Total Canada, Preliminary Overnights, Ind.2+, 2011)

* Based on metered television audience data only

3 Responses to CBC Draws Nearly 2 Million For Habs/Leafs

  1. Fred says:

    NHL topper John Collins says Comcast/NBC Universal merger and new TV rights deal buys more marketing of pro hockey nationwide by NBC Sports Group.
    TORONTO – Don’t think commentator Al Michaels got his pro sports mixed up Sunday night when he gave a shout out to Boston Bruins fans during the NBC Sunday Night Football telecast.

    Carrie Underwood marries NHL player
    CBC allows NHL access to hockey series
    That was cross-promotion by the NBC Sports Group as Michaels broke into the New York Jets-Baltimore Ravens NFL telecast to invite Boston sports fans, having just witnessed a Red Sox collapse, to watch Thursday night on Versus as the Bruins raise the Stanley Cup banner at TD Garden.
    It’s a new game, said NHL COO John Collins, after the pro hockey league earlier this year signed a new 10-year exclusive rights deal with Comcast/NBC Universal that puts 100 NHL games annually on NBC and mostly Versus.
    Overnight, the new U.S. rights deal enables 20 NBC networks and 40 of its digital platforms to promote and help grow the NHL stateside.
    NHL games previously aired on NBC and Versus, but the Comcast-NBC Universal merger now means pro hockey broadcasts and promotion in the U.S. is under one roof.
    “It’s all one company now and to have one group, one team of individuals, who are responsible for how hockey and the NHL will look on a national level throughout the United States makes for an easier and more powerful relationship,” Collins said.
    That means changing the mind-set at NBC, where hockey was a weekend sport, and will now dominate the schedule at Versus, a sports cable channel soon to be rechristened NBC Sports Network.
    “They’re going to make hockey the anchor product for a lot of that content” on the NBC Sports Network, Collins explained.
    NHL on NBC is also getting more Canadian, with Canuck hockey analyst Pierre McGuire now working exclusively on NBC and Versus telecasts, alongside American on-air talent Eddie Olczyk, Mike Milbury and Mike “Doc” Emrik.
    Those commentators will also start showing up on the NHL Network, as part of the new NHL-NBC relationship. “We’ll look better, we’ll look bigger, and have more bells and whistles and more story-telling,” Collins said of the NBC and Versus hockey telecasts.
    All that NBC promotion of hockey stateside aims at raising the profile of the league’s Stanley Cup championship rounds once NBC offers exclusive coverage starting with the conference semifinals.
    “By televising every game to a national audience, we’ll really able to create a tournament feel around the Stanley Cup, which has been created in Canada,” Collins said.

  2. Fred says:

    Brian Duff lands a spot on Sabres’ broadcast roster
    LexisNexis Feed By Greg Connors, Buffalo News (New York)

    Updated Oct 7, 2011 12:29 AM ET
    Rick Jeanneret and Harry Neale will be stay-at-home broadcasters for a good portion of the Sabres’ road schedule, including this week’s two opening games in Europe. As announced in July, Jeanneret and Neale will call just 18 road games, and 39 of the 41 home games. Jeanneret, in his 40th season with the team, is cutting back on his schedule as a transitional step toward retiring.

    Kevin Sylvester and Danny Gare have been paired as the second broadcast team, and are scheduled to do 22 road games and one at home. Sylvester, of course, is host of the team’s pregame, postgame and intermission shows. For the 23 games when he slides over to the play-by-play microphone, a new face will be seen doing the hosting duties: Brian Duff from the NHL Network.

    Duff, 40, is starting his fifth season with the network, where he appears on the program “On the Fly.” He has had various broadcasting roles with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.

    Hockey and broadcasting were two of Duff’s passions while growing up east of Toronto, in Whitby, Ont. His mother was a Sabres fan, so Duff spent plenty of time listening to Jeanneret’s voice on the radio. He became a huge fan.

    “I would bet that I wouldn’t have to look too deep into my archive and I could find some cassette tapes I made of some of Rick’s great calls from when I was probably 8 or 10 years old,” Duff said.

    How did his mom become enamored with the Sabres up there in Maple Leafs country?

    “She was a Leafs fan, she tells me, up until their final championship [in 1967]. After that, things started to get a bit lean as they traded off their best assets. With Punch Imlach’s connection, she just decided she would follow Punch’s new venture in Buffalo, and I think she just instantly became — like everybody else in this market — a fan of Gilbert Perreault.”

    Duff, who earned a broadcasting diploma from Mount Royal College in Calgary, is a familiar face on the Canadian airwaves. In addition to his NHL work, he also was a broadcaster on the National Lacrosse League’s Game of the Week last season, which included some Buffalo Bandits games. He hopes to return to that role this winter.

    Duff spent a good deal of time around the team during training camp. And he has spent enough time around NHL teams to know that there is a new atmosphere around First Niagara Center this season, a raising of expectations and quickening of pulses under new owner Terry Pegula.

    “It goes beyond just the team,” Duff said. “I think they’re trying to do it right in every aspect of the business. You get the same vibe that the city has about its team, when you are around the employees who are working here around the clock, basically. You get the vibe that things are changing, that things are as good as they’ve ever been, from a morale and attitude standpoint.

    “I’m only basing it on a few weeks and I’m not here full-time, so I might be overstating it a bit, but it certainly seems like they are pushing all the right buttons in every area, to make it all on par with what they are trying to accomplish with the team.”

    > Short takes

    * As in recent seasons, the Sabres broadcast will be simulcast on television and WGR Radio. There are 10 Sabres games scheduled to be televised on Versus, which early in January will be renamed the NBC Sports Network. Up to two games will be carried on NBC.

    * Digital cable customers of Time Warner or Verizon FiOS can sample the NHL Center Ice package during an 18-day free preview, from Oct. 6 to 23. Center Ice is an out-of-market subscription package that shows up to 40 live games per week.

    * There is still no resolution to the stalemate between Madison Square Garden and the Dish Network, meaning MSG is not available to Dish viewers. DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS are the options for MSG in the Western New York market.

  3. Fred says:

    If there’s ever going to be an NHL Winter Classic somewhere in Southern California, John Collins will make it happen.

    The NHL’s puckish chief operations officer, going into his fifth season with the league, has been the primary fulcrum into making outdoor hockey one of the sport’s most anticipated events of the year, a New Year’s Day celebration elbowing out college football bowl games.

    The 49-year-old marketing man comes with 15 years of experience in the NFL, and a brain worth picking about where hockey can still go as the league starts its 95th season this weekend:


    QUESTION: In an interview you did recently with Ad Age magazine, you said that you’re the one in charge of making the NHL think bigger and push envelopes . . . and that includes making the Stanley Cup playoffs as big as March Madness from a TV ratings and advertising standpoint. Is that mad?

    ANSWER: Look, that’s a high bar. But we think when we look at brand research, not just among hockey fans but among all sports fans, the Stanley Cup is up there with the Super Bowl and World Series and March Madness as one of the biggest events in sports, and it has that brand equity. It doesn’t come right now with that size of TV ratings, but as part of the recent U.S. TV negotiations (with NBC and Versus, expanding the partnership for the next 10 years), we felt that we wanted to stress with our partner a plan that guarantees every game through the playoffs be nationally


    televised in its entirety – and that’s a big change.

    Q: You can see people in L.A. flocking to bars and restaurants watching Stanley Cup playoffs?

    A: We did a lot of focus group work on L.A. over the summer, and I think we learned a lot of things. They feel good about hockey and we need to make it more a part of their lives. NBC-Universal will help, and the Kings, along with Tim Leiweke and his boys will do their part.


    Q: The other part of your quote in the story I read went: We’re not going to sit until hockey reaches its rightful position in terms of relevance in sports and entertainment. I never got a sense that hockey fans worry about things like “rightful position” in the grand scheme. Sometimes they embrace the fact it can go under the radar without comparisons to the NFL or NBA or Major League Baseball. Do you sense that hockey fans fear the game can get away from their comfort level? Isn’t money what caused the sport to miss a whole season with a lockout not too long ago?

    A: I can’t see how that would be really a problem. When we say “making it bigger,” our teams already play to 93 percent sellouts. In many markets, hockey is out-rating basketball as a local sport. There is probably some segment there who feel (the NHL) is a club that not everyone knows about, and that’s a cool thing. But it’s also fun to be the most popular kid in school, too.


    Q: An interesting fact we saw this week: The last three Stanley Cup winners began their regular season on a trip to Europe. When the Kings and Ducks went to London to play in 2008, it was still pretty new. Do teams now ask the league to make the trips?

    A: I know (the Kings’ head of business) Luc Robitaille was interested in that statistic. I think more teams are wrapping their heads around it and they can see how they can integrate it into their training camps. Maybe we can do them later in the season – it doesn’t have to always be the opening.


    Q: How do you view L.A. as a hockey market, Southern California as a hockey base? In the post-(Wayne) Gretzky era, do you see the buzz created more than a decade ago having a chance to come back and

    grow at this point?

    A: L.A. has come a long way. You see players now drafted high in the first round who grew up in Southern California, likely as a result of Gretzky and what went on there. It’s a town that loves winners and Tim Leiweke and the Kings look very well positioned. Maybe all it will take is having a Winter Classic at the Rose Bowl at night one of these days.


    Q: On New Year’s Day? That could be a problem.

    A: Maybe at Farmers Field?


    Q: Now we see where you’re going. Does L.A. have to wait that long, until a field is built that might not even get built? Can we try somewhere else?

    A: We are constantly trying to improve the technology on the ice in the rink system, and the guys have been able to get it constant at 50 degrees. So I don’t know. Maybe we get one of those nice, cool nights up in the hills. Maybe we do it sooner rather than later. Obviously, the Rose Bowl, we can’t compete with their New Year’s tradition, but we could easily do it another day, or another place.


    Q: How would the rest of the country view hockey in Southern California if there was a game at Dodger Stadium, or Angel Stadium, Venice Beach … maybe the parking lot next to the Santa Monica pier?

    A: L.A. loves its big events and a Classic is such a good event that it resonates with not just hockey fans but all fans young and old. It’d be great to figure out how to do it. I can imagine player introductions as they’re skating off the Santa Monica pier with the Ferris wheel in the background, right onto the ice. Then we know we’ve

    made it.

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